I am alternating my card playing between No Limit and Limit Hold ‘Em cash games lately. I am pretty much aware of the differences between the two games.
In Limit, you can control the betting on marginal hands by calling or folding. In No Limit, you need to be careful what you call because you could be reaching a point of no return by calling raises that will eventually put you all in for your entire stack. By just calling a 3/4 pot size bet pre-flop, flop, turn and river you are basically all in. If you have more than 1/2 your stack in the middle, it is almost always the right thing to move all in or call an all in raise in the hopes you will win the hand. Your pot odds are so great that even a bad hand should call based on the math. And if you are wrong, poof goes your stack.
According to the latest book I am reading, you should constantly be evaluating what you think your opponents hands are, even if you have already folded. Now, the book did not say how many hands you should see, but based on experience of late, I am thinking that you should see a couple of dozen hands played by an opponent before you can even start to know how and what your opponent might play.
In one session, I thought I noticed an opponent make plays and show down just high cards to win a pot against another player who had lower high cards. Neither one of them had a pair or even made a pair after the flop, turn and river. Armed with that knowledge, I opened the pot for four BB (big blinds), which was a pretty standard bet at this table. I had an AQ suited. All but the loose opponent folded and he re-raised me by four BB and I called. The flop was 7 J 3 with one heart to my flush draw. Now at this point in the hand I already had more than 1/3 of my chips in the middle. I checked and he bet half the pot. I still had nothing but two higher cards than the flop but I thought that I knew my opponents range and I called. The turn was a 2. At this point most of my stack was in the pot and I shoved with nothing or air as it is called and he called and turned over two Jacks for three of a kind. I was drawing dead as they say.
Because I had not played long enough to really know this player, I had made some terrible judgment calls.
1. I really did not know the range of cards that this opponent would play.
2. I really did not have a hand strong enough to enter the pot with a raise.
3. I committed more to the pot than I should have after the flop when even a pair of twos might beat me.
4. I did not have any pot equity after the flop.
So I bought in again. This time I played extremely tight, playing premium pairs in position, limping and folding to raises on draws or small pocket pairs. This second session was more successful. I was able to increase my stack by 50% before leaving the table. When I committed my chips to the pot, I actually had a hand that I could play.
Hopefully the lessons learned will carry forward.
Have you played No Limit cash games and totally misread your opponent? Did you let the loss effect your subsequent play? Were you able to learn from the experience and move forward?